Spring Trout Fly Fishing in Michigan: Tips and Techniques for 2023

Spring is a great time to go trout fly fishing in Michigan. With the winter thaw, the rivers and streams are flowing again, and the trout are hungry after a long winter. Michigan is known for its excellent trout fishing, with numerous rivers and streams throughout the state offering a variety of fishing experiences.

One of the most popular destinations for spring trout fishing in Michigan is the west coast of the Lower Peninsula. The Grand River, below the 6th Street Dam in Grand Rapids, is a great place to fish for steelhead. The river is stocked with steelhead every year, and the fish can be caught using a variety of techniques, including fly fishing.

fly fishing in Michigan

Another great spot for early-season trout fishing is the White River, located in Newaygo County. This river is known for its brook and brown trout fishery, and the cold water provided by natural springs makes it an ideal habitat for trout.

While dry fly fishing can be challenging during the early season, it can also be very rewarding, especially during the largest BWO hatches.

Best Spring Trout Fly Fishing in Michigan Rivers

Upper Manistee River

The Upper Manistee River is a popular destination for spring trout fly fishing in Michigan. The river is known for its brown trout and rainbow trout populations, making it a great spot for anglers of all skill levels. The best time to fish the Upper Manistee River is typically in April and May when the water temperatures are ideal for trout fishing.

Some of the best spots to fish on the Upper Manistee River include the stretch of river from M-72 to CCC Bridge, as well as the section of river from CCC Bridge to Smithville Road Bridge. These areas are known for their deep pools and riffles, which provide excellent habitat for trout.

Pere Marquette River

The Pere Marquette River is another top destination for spring trout fly fishing in Michigan. This river is known for its large brown trout and steelhead populations, as well as its scenic beauty. The best time to fish the Pere Marquette River is typically from late March through May.

Some of the best spots to fish on the Pere Marquette River include the stretch of river from M-37 to Gleason’s Landing, as well as the section of river from Gleason’s Landing to Rainbow Rapids. These areas are known for their deep pools and runs, which provide excellent habitat for trout.

White River

The White River is a lesser-known but still excellent destination for spring trout fly fishing in Michigan. This river is known for its brown trout and rainbow trout populations, as well as its clear water and scenic beauty. The best time to fish the White River is typically from late March through May.

Some of the best spots to fish on the White River include the section of river from Hesperia Dam to Whitehall, as well as the stretch of river from Whitehall to Lake Michigan. These areas are known for their deep pools and riffles, which provide excellent habitat for trout.

Au Sable River

The Au Sable River is a classic Michigan trout stream and a must-visit destination for any serious angler. This river is known for its brown trout and brook trout populations, as well as its scenic beauty and challenging fishing conditions. The best time to fish the Au Sable River is typically from late March through May.

Some of the best spots to fish on the Au Sable River include the stretch of river from Mio Dam to Alcona Dam, as well as the section of river from Alcona Dam to Foote Dam. These areas are known for their deep pools and runs, as well as their challenging fishing conditions.

Equipment Needed for Spring Trout Fly Fishing

Fly Rod and Reel

When it comes to fly fishing for spring trout in Michigan, having the right fly rod and reel is crucial. The following are some recommended fly rod weights for different trout species:

Trout Species Fly Rod Weight
Smaller Trout 3 weight
Medium Sized Trout 5 weight
Larger Trout 7 weight
Biggest Trout 8 weight

When selecting a fly reel, it’s important to choose one that matches the weight of your rod and has a good drag system. A decent matching weight reel and good fly line is important. The one shown below is highly rated go ahead and click it.

Fly Line and Leader

Matching your fly line and leader to your rod and reel is essential to achieving a successful cast. For spring trout fly fishing, a weight-forward floating line is the most commonly used line type. Leaders should be tapered and range from 7.5 to 9 feet in length.

Flies and Other Accessories

When it comes to selecting flies for spring trout fly fishing, it’s important to match the hatch. Some common spring hatches in Michigan include blue-winged olives and caddisflies. Nymphs and dry flies are both effective options.

Other accessories to consider bringing along include polarized sunglasses, a hat, sunscreen, and waders if you plan on wading in the water.

Techniques for Spring Trout Fly Fishing in Michigan

Nymphing

Nymphing is one of the most effective techniques for spring trout fly fishing in Michigan. It involves using an artificial fly that mimics the nymph stage of aquatic insects. The key to successful nymphing is to present the fly close to the bottom of the river or stream, where the trout are feeding. A weighted nymph is used to help it sink to the bottom. The fly is then retrieved slowly, mimicking the natural movement of the nymph.

Some popular nymph patterns for spring trout fishing in Michigan include the Hare’s Ear, Pheasant Tail, and Prince Nymph. These patterns imitate mayfly and caddisfly nymphs, which are abundant in Michigan’s rivers and streams.

Dry Fly Fishing

Dry fly fishing is a popular and exciting technique for spring trout fishing in Michigan. It involves using an artificial fly that floats on the surface of the water and imitates adult insects, such as mayflies and caddisflies. The key to successful dry fly fishing is to match the hatch, which means using a fly that closely resembles the insects that are hatching at the time.

Some popular dry fly patterns for spring trout fishing in Michigan include the Adams, Blue Wing Olive, and Elk Hair Caddis. These patterns imitate the insects that are most commonly found in Michigan’s rivers and streams during the spring.

Streamers

Streamers are large, imitation baitfish patterns that are designed to mimic the movement of small fish. They are often used in deeper water or when the water is murky, as they create a lot of movement and can attract larger trout. Streamers are usually fished with a sinking line, which helps get the fly down to the depth where the fish are feeding.

Some popular streamer patterns for spring trout fishing in Michigan include the Woolly Bugger, Sculpin, and Muddler Minnow. These patterns imitate small baitfish that are commonly found in Michigan’s rivers and streams.

Regulations and Licensing Requirements

Michigan is a great place for spring trout fly fishing, but it’s important to know the regulations and licensing requirements before you hit the water. Here’s what you need to know:

Type of Fish License Required
Trout and Salmon Yes
Bass, Pike, and Muskie Yes
Panfish Yes

When targeting trout and salmon in Michigan, there are specific regulations you need to follow. For example, there are designated trout streams that are open but may have special rules. Additionally, there are regulations regarding the size and number of fish you can keep. Be sure to familiarize yourself with these regulations before you head out. Check out the book you recieved when you bought your license.

Michigan fishing licenses are required for all anglers over the age of 16. Licenses can be purchased online or at a local retailer, and they are valid for the calendar year. As of March 1, 2023, the 2023 fishing licenses are on sale. Make sure you have a valid license before you start fishing.

It’s also important to note that if you plan on taking or possessing bait fish, amphibians, or crustaceans for commercial purposes, you’ll need an annual license. If you’re just fishing for sport, a regular fishing license will suffice.

Conclusion for Fly Fishing In Michigan

Michigan is a great destination for spring trout fly fishing. With its clean, healthy streams and rivers, Michigan offers an abundance of opportunities to catch a variety of trout species.

From the popular spring steelhead season from mid-March through April to the hatches of big bugs in June, Michigan has something to offer for every angler.

Michigan Trout Unlimitd is also working to ensure clean, healthy streams and rivers supporting thriving trout populations. So, whether you’re a seasoned angler or just starting out, Michigan is a great place to visit for spring trout fly fishing.

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